Reporters on the Job
• A $1,700 Press Card? To do his reporting for today's story about the Zimbabwe elections, staff writer Scott Baldauf entered Zimbabwe as a tourist. It's a move that carries a certain amount of risk of arrest, but is something that has become increasingly common for foreign journalists. Zimbabwe has not been granting visas to foreign correspondents.
Just before Scott left for Zimbabwe, the government announced that it would charge foreign journalists a whopping $1,700 fee for accreditation and said the accreditation process would be strenuous. He figured he'd give it a shot. Maybe the $1,700 price tag was negotiable.
"I tried multiple times to fax my accreditation form to the Zimbabwe government but the fax on the receiving end appeared to be turned off," he says.
Later it was reported that the Zimbabwe government has no intention of accrediting journalists who come from "hostile" Western countries such as the US and Britain, or journalists who have covered Iraq or Afghanistan.
Commenting on the flood of visa requests by journalists, Information Ministry spokesman George Charamba told Zimbabwe's state-owned newspaper Sunday Mail, "It is as if Zimbabwe is a war about to start."